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  • Alzheimer Disease Awareness Month
    Added by My Identity Doctor

    Though termed a disease, Alzheimer disease would likely be characterized better as a syndrome—that is, a group of symptoms that cluster together to cause a more marked deviation from normal functioning in an individual. Typical of conditions known as dementias, Alzheimer Disease primarily affects those over 65 years of age—however, they can onset significantly earlier.  Dementias often affect the areas of executive functioning—attention, memory and problem solving, as well as language.

    Often people expect for their memory to become worse as they age—this is a dangerous misconception and can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer disease [AD]. Common symptoms may be vague in presentation, but at any suspicion, an individual should see a doctor for evaluation—early symptoms of Alzheimer disease include “minor” difficulties with short term memory—including forgetting that memory lapses have occurred, new-onset confusion in unfamiliar situations. Language loss often occurs in early stage AD, such as forgetting words and losing substantial amounts of prior vocabulary. Often, family or close friends will notice the signs before the individual affected does. At this stage, physical motor problems often become more apparent, and fall risk increases greatly. As disease progresses—caused by further degeneration within the brain—confusion can increase across-the-board, and new information is more difficult to remember (often, this sparks upheaval of old memories or repetition), and loss of self-awareness—remembering one’s own previously defining characteristics and interests, as well as beginning to degrade in ability to provide self-care.  Due to risks of personal injury or wandering as well as difficulty performing crucial activities of daily living [ADLs] including feeding, using the bathroom independently and engaging in interpersonal relationships, families often make the difficult choice to keep their loved one safe by either providing for daily home care programs or moving the individual into a nursing home for round-the-clock care and supervision.  Due to increased potential medical needs as well as safety when it comes to wandering behaviours, it becomes necessary to wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace stating the individual’s name (to assist in getting their attention), that they have Alzheimer Disease, and a contact name and phone number.

    In late-stage AD, speech is severely impacted, however, understanding and comprehension of emotion is often left in tact. ADLs are severely impacted and often cannot be preformed without assistance.  Alzheimer disease is terminal (meaning it “cannot be cured or adequately treated” [per Wikipedia])—however, death occurs most often from development of secondary diseases such as acquired pneumonia, or other infections—susceptibility to these infections is much higher with an individual who is bedridden; as people with AD often have difficulty maintaining functionality in activities of daily living, even when provided for, eating is often very affected and inadequate nutrition may be among culprits for susceptibility to acquired infections that lead to death.

    Alzheimers Medical ID
    September is Alzheimer Disease Awareness Month—what can you do? Here are some ideas to get you started . . .
    Learn more about Alzheimer Disease and educate people in your life on the early symptoms of the disease.
    Get to know a person with Alzheimer Disease! Not only can you help slow down further decline, you’ll also learn a lot! I used to volunteer at a personal care home where many residents had AD—one in particular comes to mind that frequently played the harmonica for me . . . and the joy in ability was evident!
    Hashtag Alzheimer Disease related tweets with #ENDALZ to join the discussion on AD.
    SHARE. Your stories, experiences and perspectives of Alzheimer Disease. You may help someone else learn something new, too.

    To learn more about Alzheimer Disease and implications for independent living, care giving and awareness, visit the Alzheimer’s Association and “do a little big thing” to change perceptions on Alzheimer Disease—in yourself and those around you.


    WRITTEN BY:  Kerri MacKay

    Download Free Awareness Ribbon

    Published by My Identity Doctor on September 4, 2013


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